WRB—Sept. 28, 2022
To do list:
avail yourself of our world-famous classified ads, now stored on this page for non-paying readers to access, either by placing or responding to one;
For Noema, Alex Vuocolo pleas for us to fix some stuff: “The difference between a state of good repair and a bad one is often highly technical. No amount of utopian dreaming can make a battery hold any more energy or a piece of steel bear any more weight than it’s designed for. Mechanics, plumbers, electricians, engineers and janitors are at the frontlines of figuring out what’s possible with the machines and tools at their disposal, and we can’t set civilizational goals without their input. We need their expertise, just like we need scientists and doctors, to even begin answering the question of what must be done.”
Special Collaboration Between the Depts. Of Cooking and Interviews: Crawford Smith interviews Jacques Pépin for website TastingTable about his new book, out yesterday, on chicken (Art of the Chicken, September) [An Upcoming book in WRB—July 16, 2022].
Excerpts from Canada:
And The Walrus has an excerpt from Jason Guriel’s upcoming book about having nothing in particular to do (On Browsing, November) on that peak-civilizational state, being bored at the mall: “Maybe this sounds boring, an intolerable state in the Age of Scrolling. Scrolling, after all, promises an antidote to boredom. It promises choice, abundance, novelty, diversion, something to do. We scroll to stave off an intolerable state. We scroll to avoid being alone with ourselves. But boredom is a natural condition, the fishbowl medium a mind should be able to swim in. In fact, research suggests that boredom is even good for the brain—for creativity, productivity, that sort of thing. My parents’ benign neglect had neuroscience on its side.”
More on boredom: Rhian Sasseen for The Baffler cops to being a professional at it, reflecting on her experience working as a social media manager and Henry James’s 1898 novella In the Cage: “James’s protagonist—young, female, lower middle class at best—passes her days as a kind of ghost, sending and receiving other people’s messages, other people’s words. She is the conduit for so many other people’s lives—all while remaining essentially invisible. Every letter, every piece of punctuation, every ‘STOP’ must pass through her, but she herself leaves behind no trace. Not even when she tries to intervene, to insert herself into the story—not even when she tries to better shape the goings-on of Captain Everard and Lady Bradeen—can she truly claim authorship. She is brimming with words, too many words, she spills over with too much information. ‘She had seen all sorts of things and pieced together all sorts of mysteries,’ is how James writes it. And yet she does not garner a name.”
Two from The Nation and one more from Rhian:
In June, we mentioned Jana Prikryl’s new collection of poetry (Midwood, August). Rhian Sasseen writes: “The natural realm, in these poems, is portrayed both as a comfort, something to be returned to, and as deeply indecipherable and opaque. Depicted in lines that are pruned and rearranged with each new iteration, the trees, wind, and leaves portrayed here are halfway between wild and domesticated, fashioned into something that veers between recognizable and disturbing.”
The film Heat (1995) has a sequel novel (Heat 2, August) written by its director, Michael Mann, with Meg Gardiner. Adam Nayman says, among other things, “it turns out that what the great directors really want to do is write novels.” [We’ve explored this concept recently.]
Peter Baker’s debut novel (Planes, May) got a mention here this spring. For the LARB, Toral Jatin Gajarawala reviews the “propulsive [Wow! —Chris] new novel”: “Baker’s story about the inner lives of figures who are variously intercepted by American machinations abroad might be described, reluctantly, as a post–post-9/11 novel. After the initial efforts of Don DeLillo, Jonathan Safran Foer, and others, it attempts to reckon with American lives entangled with others—and with the other lives entangled with ours. Like John Wray’s recent Godsend, it offers a look at those lives that have been refigured by wars abroad and immigration home.” [Let’s not forget John Updike’s effort! —Chris] [Or Martin Amis’. —Nic]
In the newest NYRB, Erin Maglaque reviews a new book about an obscure and eccentric Italian (The Incomparable Monsignor, August).
The Paris Review is hiring a business manager.
And the Times is hiring a “Preview Editor.”
Poet Laureate Ada Limón is reading at the Library of Congress tomorrow. [The event is full, but I strongly recommend watching the livestream; she’s wonderful live. —Julia]
The DMV’s preeminent record collector, R.I.P.
October | University of Notre Dame Press
The Whole Mystery of Christ: Creation as Incarnation in Maximus Confessor
By Jordan Daniel Wood
From the publisher: Jordan Daniel Wood changes the trajectory of patristic scholarship with this comprehensive historical and systematic study of one of the most creative and profound thinkers of the patristic era: Maximus Confessor (560–662 CE). Wood's panoramic vantage on Maximus’s thought emulates the theological depth of Hans Urs von Balthasar’s Cosmic Liturgy while also serving as a corrective to that classic text.
Maximus's theological vision may be summed up in his enigmatic assertion that “the Word of God, very God, wills always and in all things to actualize the mystery of his Incarnation.” The Whole Mystery of Christ sets out to explicate this claim. Attentive to the various contexts in which Maximus thought and wrote—including the wisdom of earlier church fathers, conciliar developments in Christological and Trinitarian doctrine, monastic and ascetic ways of life, and prominent contemporary philosophical traditions—the book explores the relations between God’s act of creation and the Word’s historical Incarnation, between the analogy of being and Christology, and between history and the Fall, in addition to treating such topics as grace, deification, theological predication, and the ontology of nature versus personhood. Perhaps uniquely among Christian thinkers, Wood argues, Maximus envisions creatio ex nihilo as creatio ex Deo in the event of the Word’s kenosis: the mystery of Christ is the revealed identity of the Word’s historical and cosmic Incarnation. This book will be of interest to scholars and students of patristics, historical theology, systematic theology, and Byzantine studies.
[Not our usual wheelhouse, but I’m reliably informed this is a speculative bombshell that may be of interest to a significant chunk of you, our readers. —Chris]